Do I need more than my company health insurance plan from work?
The short answer is that it depends on how much your company’s health insurance plan covers. Many employer-based health insurance plans will provide coverage for medical expenses, dental expenses and prescription drugs. Some plans even provide coverage for eye care and mental health.
If your health insurance plan from your employer doesn’t cover a particular type of expense or procedure that you expect to need, then it might be worthwhile to consider getting supplemental health insurance coverage. It might also be worth considering additional insurance if you have a plan with very high deductibles or copayments.
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There are other types of supplemental insurance that might be worth consideration. There are some designed especially to pay for non-medical expenses like lost wages. According to an article on the About.com website, supplemental health insurance can cover copayments and deductibles. In some cases, it may even cover preexisting conditions.
What if I can’t get coverage through work?
If you belong to a professional organization, sometimes you can get insurance through them. Health insurance arranged through a professional organization will usually feature a group rate, like employer-sponsored health insurance. However, the organization will usually not pay a portion of the premiums like an employer will. Sometimes other clubs besides professional organizations may offer group health insurance, as well.
Finding independent health insurance is a little more challenging and usually a little more expensive. The best bet is to search online, where different companies and policies can be compared directly.
For those who are unemployed or living at or below the poverty level, sometimes the state they live in will help them to find low cost or free health insurance.
What are the health insurance costs?
The first thing you have to pay is premiums, which are basically the cost of insurance. Premiums are usually paid automatically from each paycheck when someone gets insurance through their employer, otherwise they are usually billed monthly. In addition to premiums, most health insurance usually requires copayments and deductibles.
Copayments are set fees that are paid by the patient for a particular service or doctor’s visit and they usually cost between $10 and $50. Health insurance deductibles are the cost each insured person has to pay before their insurance kicks in; these costs can vary quite significantly from less than a hundred dollars up to several thousand dollars. Most health insurance companies only pay between 50 and 90 percent of medical bills, so the patient will be responsible for the rest.
Health insurance plans do have maximums, so in the unlikely event that your health care expenses go over that maximum, you would have to pay the overage. These maximums can be fairly low yearly maximums for vision or dental care, or very high for a lifetime medical maximum benefit. Incidentally, all these costs are rising rapidly. One article on HealthReform.gov, explained that out of pocket expenses for health insurance went up 30 percent over a five year period from 2001 to 2006.
What happens to my coverage if I lose my job?
Depending on your employer and your insurance company, your health insurance coverage may end on your last day of employment or it may continue for a month of more after you lose your job. Each company sets its own policies for benefits and how they relate to termination. Once employer based health insurance is terminated, there are still some options.
COBRA insurance is generally what people turn to when they lose the health insurance that came with their job. According to the United States Department of Labor, the federal COBRA law allows people to keep their same level of insurance coverage for at least 15 months after their employment is terminated. The drawback to COBRA is that it is considerably more expensive than an employer-sponsored health plan.
Other options for short term health insurance after losing a job include getting on a spouse’s insurance plan or getting independent health insurance.
There are also state and federal health insurance assistance programs for people who are unemployed for a long time or who are suffering extreme economic hardship.
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